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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Kyllingstad

Learn Your Love Language (And Your Family's Too!)

Have you ever gotten a gift that you were disappointed with when you first got it and then it turned out to be something you use all the time? I have a couple of those. One was a wedding gift of the book The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. I wanted fun presents for my house, not a book on relationships. But this book has made a lasting impression on me, and I use it and refer to it all the time. I’ve lent my book out several times and talked about it with many people.

Have you ever heard of couples on the verge of divorce talking with a marriage counselor and the woman says she doesn’t feel loved? I’m sure I’ve seen this scene one thousand times in movies. The man says something like “What are you talking about? I hung shelves in your craft room, I built you a workbench, I installed that new fancy sink you liked! How can you not know I love you?” And her response is something like “Well, sure. But you never tell me how nice I look in my outfit when we go out to dinner. You never say I did a good job when I get an A in my Graduate Program classes. You never actually even say ‘I love you.’” These two are trying to communicate in different languages and that is why it isn’t working! They each have a different definition of what it means to be loved.

In the effort to maintain transparency, this book has religious roots and only heterosexual references so it can turn some people off when reading it. Which is unfortunate because at its base, the nuggets of wisdom are great and truly accessible by all. So, I still highly recommend reading the book for yourself and taking away all the good bits that work for you and leaving behind the things that don’t.

The basic premise is that there are 5 ways people communicate love. Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Gifts, and Physical Touch. People tend to have one primary love language which can also change over time, so it is a good idea to check in periodically and see where you are. And where your loved ones fall too. You can take a quiz online here and find out what your primary love language is, what it means, and how you can use it to connect better with your loved ones. But let’s take a quick look at what those 5 languages are first.

1. Words of Affirmation

A person with Words of Affirmation as their love language will feel loved by verbal acknowledgements of affection. These include compliments, words of appreciation, frequent sayings of “I love you,” verbal encouragement, and often frequent communications in the form of texts or other social media engagement.

2. Quality Time

A person with Quality Time as their love language will feel loved when their partner actively wants to spend time with them and is fully present in those moments. This includes eye contact, active listening, and engagement. They will feel valued with your undivided attention, without being distracted by phone screens, television screens, or other distractions. (Like children competing for your attention!) Date nights with one-on-one connection are treasured.

3. Acts of Service

A person with Acts of Service as their love language will feel loved when their partner goes out of their way to make life easier for them. This could include taking out the garbage, picking up something from the grocery store, filling the car with gas, surprising you with breakfast in bed the morning after a stressful night. These people truly believe “actions speak louder than words,” and they want to see it to believe it.

4. Gifts

A person with Gifts as their love language will feel loved when they receive a “visual symbol of love.” There is no monetary amount assigned to the gift. It could be free. It isn’t about the cost associated with the item; it is about the thought behind it. A person with this love language knows you took time to think about them while choosing the gift. It could be something big or small. One time a good friend of mine tucked a gigantic leaf under my windshield. I was thrilled!

5. Physical Touch

A person with Physical Touch as their love language will feel loved when there is physical connection. Yes, this can and definitely does include sex, but it isn’t limited to just sex. They feel loved when you kiss them, hold their hand, cuddle, or touch the small of their back while you stand by them in the kitchen. Hugs and snuggles are amazing.

I have found that most partners don’t share the same kind of love language and that is where the trouble starts. A person knows what they like for themselves, so they tend to do that for the other person. But when it isn’t a shared love language the second person feels like the first person doesn’t know anything about them and is out of touch. They might even feel like that first person is self-absorbed since they appear to only be thinking about what they like, not what is important to that second person. An expression of love from the first person can actually backfire and turn into something completely the opposite of what they intended if the recipient of that love has a different love language.

It is important to know your love language, but it is equally as important to know the love language of your partner. When you know how they feel most loved, you can work to make sure you express your love in a way that will be the most successful and fulfilling for the other person. This also works for the other people in your life. Parents, siblings, friends, children. The author has books written specifically focused on couples, singles, teens, children, the workplace, military, men. So, there are several options for you to find one focused on the relationship you are interested in learning about. Happy learning. Happy loving.

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